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Studland Seagrass and Seahorse Project

August 31, 2013

Week 2

Thankfully, the weather improved and we could get out on the kayaks for our induction. Dan, the very friendly kayak course leader down at Studland sea school, took us out and soon had us throwing safety ropes, pretending to drown, capsizing kayaks and saving those that had capsized. Purposely capsizing a kayak and staying upside down underwater while waiting for one of your peers to save you was a daunting prospect; however Sam Chaffey and Emma Godden (two other Trust employees) managed this with aplomb. After several different rescue techniques practised, both successfully and unsuccessfully, we were done.

 Lynn then proceeded to show her kayaking skills to the rest of the beach, after drifting half a mile away from the rest of us, she then capsized her kayak. Watching the struggle, I saw this as an invitation to try out my new rescue skills. After getting to the damsel in distress, we battled to get her kayak-bound again, and for 3 seconds, we managed it. Eventually Lynn had to walk her kayak back to shore and get a more stable vessel.

At the end of the day, everybody pleased with their days work, we headed to shore, suddenly, a frantic colleague of Dan’s paddled over, exclaiming that he should turn his radio off. Apparently, from the moment our training started, Dan had been transmitting the whole episode over the radio, to the coastguard. We soon revelled in his misfortune as we realised that there had been a fair amount of panicked screaming and unfortunately, many a profanity being aired across the radio to everyone on the bay. Thankfully, it was taken in good spirits and all was fine.  So, with training done, we were ready, apparently, to float our way around Studland bay. Check out some of the photos from our kayak training.

 Another part of our job involves re-vamping the Studland seagrass and seahorse project website and one day a week will be spent on this. First of all, we needed to wade through all the information and pick out what was needed, relevant and disposable. So, Lynn and I hatched a plan – to think like visitors and think about what we would want from a website. After much deliberation, we finally had a list of information we would like. The task now is to work on the content and get it on the website as quickly as possible.

The Sunday was spent out on the kayaks for the first time. Immediately, we were off to a shaky start, as we failed to call the Kimmeridge marine centre to confirm we were on site (we weren’t to know this until the end of our shift). A glorious sun-soaked day was spent on the kayaks, as we wrestled through the occasional 6-inch waves we encountered. We managed to get 30 questionnaires filled out during our first day, no mean feat! I was generally surprised by the friendliness of the boaters. I was expecting more hostility. It was clear however, that the whole situation involving Studland bay and its infamous seahorse population had been poorly understood.. A lot of boaters felt their days on Studland were perhaps numbered and that all conservationists want, is to rid the area of all boating activity, which is simply not the case.

Lynn and I often found ourselves explaining what was actually going on in the area of Studland. Much of the information gathered by boaters is sourced through the media, who often tend to misinform and blow things out of proportion, because after all, they will print what sells. The goal now, is to find a happy medium, a place in which both parties are content, and the questionnaire aims to investigate the boaters opinions on what can be done in order to realise this.

Studland bay is a truly beautiful place and it is clear why boaters use the area so often, we must say, we love our office!

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